The Select Federal Natural Resource Management Committee of the Wyoming Legislature is planning to sponsor a bill that will put a Public Lands Constitutional Amendment in front of the voters. The proposed amendment would pave the way for transferring millions of acres of federal land to the state of Wyoming sometime in the future.
The Select Committee first discussed the amendment Nov. 9 in Riverton. Approximately 100 outdoor recreationists testified against the proposed bill. Nevertheless, the committee voted 4 to 1 to tentatively proceed.
On Wednesday, the Select Committee will meet to resume discussion of the proposed amendment. The meeting will be at 2 p.m. at the Jonah Business Center in Cheyenne.
The Select Committee has been trying to convince the public the amendment would protect recreational interests because it would prevent transferred land from being sold. That is not the case. The loopholes in the amendment are so big an elephant could slip through them.
However, if the wording was enhanced to explicitly prohibit sale, the state could find itself in a financial bind in the future if/when management costs exceed revenue from the transferred land. Expensive management activities, such as fighting forest fires, may need to be paid by other sources, potentially resulting in cuts to programs relating to health, social services, education, etc.
Therefore, the proposed amendment is a lose/lose proposition. If the language is tightened to appease recreationists’ concerns about sale, it would be bad fiscal policy for the state. If the language is not tightened, outdoor recreationists will vehemently object.
We encourage you to attend the Wednesday meeting and voice your objections to the proposed amendment. Two pre-committee rallies have been planned. There will be a “Pint Night” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Accomplice Beer Company in Cheyenne and a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Laramie County Library.
Please join us in sending a message to the Select Committee that our federal lands are deeply treasured by the Wyoming public. If you can’t attend the meeting, please send committee members an email.